Downtown Detroit has been going through some big changes, and things are different than they were when Delux Lounge first opened a decade ago. "Back in 2005, downtown wasn't as vibrant — it didn't have as many residents," owner Daniel Helka says. "It was more of a destination." He says when he first opened Delux, the bar had more of a "speakeasy" feel to it, and made a name for itself in the ensuing years as a weekend party destination.
But Helka says he is wrapping up renovations that will give Delux a decidedly different feel. "We always wanted to be that downtown neighborhood bar during the week and the party bar on the weekends," he says. "So with what we've seen downtown over the last few years and the whole boom down there, we decided that we wanted to kind of open things up a little bit, make it a little bit brighter."
Helka describes the old Delux as more of a "basement bar, a dark cave." Changes to the new Delux include opening up a wall to let more natural light in, installing new floors, lighting, and new tables. Created by craftsman Greg Worthington, the bar's new high-top community tables are made from 100-year-old 2-by-4s sourced from Reclaim Detroit. Worthington also created a shuffleboard table out of reclaimed wood from a bowling alley.
Other changes include a new food menu, which features soft pretzels with cheese and mustard sauces, flatbreads, and pizza sticks. Helka says he's also stepping up the bar's drink offerings in keeping with current trends.
"I've always liked to say, 'We've been making cocktails with our hands since 2005,'" he says. But kidding aside, he says he knows that tastes have evolved and the handcrafted cocktail trend reigns supreme. That's why Delux is partnering with Dearborn Heights' Rusted Crow Distillery and Spirits to create a new drink menu.
New items include the "Steam Punk Spritzer," a blend of Detroit Steam Vodka, lime and cranberry juice, and lime soda; or the "Bermuda Triangle," made with Davy Jones' Rum, strawberry puree, lemon juice, and Sprite.
"It's a local product, and we'll have a menu that'll reflect that," Helka says. "And the one thing that we're going to strive to do is make the crafted cocktails but in a timely fashion. It's gonna be craft cocktails — quick."